One of the best books I've read this year. Everyone has been raving about this, but I only got to it now... Markus Zusak's The Book Thief is a book about World War II, a book about trying to explain the unexplicable, a book about growing up. I didn't think that it was possible to do anything new and creative about Germany and the Second World War but Markus Zusak did it and he did it extremely well.
The story, which is predominantly the story of Liesel, is told by Death. To be honest, I had to get used to this notion. At the beginning of the story I viewed it as a gimmick of some sort, I didn't see the need for Death to narrate Liesel's story. But as I continued reading, it made more and more sense. Now I don't think the story in its entirety could have been told by anyone else.
Liesel is an orphan who comes to live with Hans and Rosa. She is smart and gutsy and has a good heart. She has to grow up in Hitler's Germany - not a great place for little girls with good hearts. During the course of the war she has to witness many things, some beautiful and some horrible. I think the beautiful moments she witnessed were made even more so by the sheer difficulty of finding beauty in a world like Liesel's. I don't know if I would have been able to do the same, although they say that people are capable of so many things that are only tested in extreme circumstances.
I think that because the book was narrated by Death, it benefited from a good dose of realism and matter-of-factness - rare in books about Hitler's Germany. This style made the writing very powerful, even though the reader knows perfectly well where the story is going. Reading The Book Thief isn't about surprise endings or twists in the story; it's about experiencing life like Liesel did.
Very highly recommended.
Challenges: A-Z Challenge, Bang Bang Book Challenge, Chunkster Challenge, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, Orbis Terrarum